Music-loving Linux users will be happy to know that Canonical announced today the official launch of the Ubuntu One Music Store public beta.
Like the iTunes Store and the Zune Marketplace, the Music Store will let users purchase and download songs and albums from a wide selection.
The Ubuntu One store is powered by 7digital, an online music distributor that offers over four million DRM-free songs in the MP3 format (at bit rates starting at 256 KBps). Canonical and 7digital have developed software that allows the Music Store to integrate with the Ubuntu One cloud service and the Rhythmbox music-management app.
Each song in the store lets you listen to a 60-second preview that you can stream directly in Rhythmbox. Payment options for purchasing songs include credit card and PayPal. Songs or albums you purchase are downloaded into your Ubuntu One storage area, and can thus be accessed from any computer you have set up to use it. You can also use the Ubuntu One Web interface to download songs from other systems.
Unsurprisingly, the Ubuntu One Music Store’s selection isn’t as extensive as what you can get from the larger stores, and it may also vary between geographic regions (different stores exist for the U.K., the U.S., Germany, the rest of the Europe, and other parts of the world). As with services like Spotify, international restrictions will apply, so all the stores may not be created equal.
A few aspects of the Music Store may present difficulties for some users. An agreement with the music labels limits the number of times you can download any song to three. Songs you purchase count against your Ubuntu One file sync capacity, so if you use the lowest 2GB level, you may run out of capacity before you get all the music you want. (You can move the file out of your synchronization area, however.) Another issue is that the default installation of Ubuntu doesn’t natively support MP3 playback; you’ll need to install an additional package with a licensed MP3 codec for GNOME’s GStreamer multimedia framework. (You’ll be prompted to do this if necessary when you first try to access the store.) If you already have a 7digital account, you can’t merge it with your Ubuntu One account.
Because the Music Store was developed as a plug-in, you don’t have to use Rhythmbox to access it—according to the Music Store’s FAQ, it will also show up in Amarok, Banshee, and other applications. The Music Store should not interfere with Jamendo or Magnatune, which provide access to Creative Commonsand open-licensed songs.
The Ubuntu One Music Store was not included in the earliest public betas of Ubuntu 10.04 (“Lucid Lynx”), which was released in beta last Friday, but will be when the final version of the software is released next month. According to techie-buzz.com, if you are using the beta you can enable the Music Store by running the following commands:
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install rythmbox-ubuntuone-music-store
And then enabling it from Edit > Plugins.